Movie Review: Shut Up and Play the Hits
Honestly, the movie documenting the final LCD Soundsystem show could have been filmed on an iphone and uploaded to YouTube and I would have enjoyed it. The fact that someone made a feature length documentary, with the bells and whistles that come with it, only served to make it an even more powerful document.
Covering the concert plus the week before and the day following the show, the 90 minute movie did a good job of capturing the party like “funeral” that was the swan song for the band. Interspersed with an interview with Chuck Klosterman, who ran the spectrum from incredibly pretentious asshat to insightful interviewer (sometimes in the same question), the true highlight of the movie was the sharp video quality of the show itself. My only beef with the concert footage was it was clearly soundboard sound, which meant it didn’t have any of the color and static noise you get when you are in a crowd. While hearing the songs sound so crisp from the theater speakers was cool, the producers messed with the sound too many times to overlay commentary over songs in a way that left me wanting to yell “turn up the fucking sound” when the band was churning through their hits. I read that the DVD will feature the concert from start to finish, which I think will be a welcome addition to the movie, because some of the songs were cut in ways that made me wish at times that it was just a straight concert film and not a documentary.
There is an inferred sadness in a lot of the songs that were played, from “All My Friends” to “Someone Great” to “New York I Love You, But You’re Brining Me Down,” even stretching to the song that broke the band “Losing My Edge,” a song many people think is funny but Murphy said was as “serious as a heart attack.” That sadness was compounded by Murphy’s introspection at why and how he was ending his celebrated band, even wondering aloud if the bands biggest failure will be that they stopped while they were riding so high. There were tears, some mild ones from Murphy as he stood alone looking at the bands gear the day following the show and some excessive one from a fan in the audience the filmmakers kept panning to, much to the amusement of the audience, but the sadness was lifted with the band, many dressed in white, performing their amazing material. In the end, the movie wasn’t the best made music documentary I have seen, but as I said above I didn’t need The Last Waltz for me to enjoy Shut up and Play the Hits.
Murphy, and his band, are iconic representations of the late 90’s and the aughts, and this movie only made me like and respect him and the group more. As you watched Murphy struggle with the battle between keeping a good thing going and exiting while on top of the game, the viewer was pulled along the same bumpy path. During the film I ran the gamut from “you idiot, this is the best band in the world and you are quitting!!” to “wow, that is gutsy to bow out before you fade away.” The infinite loneliness captured the next day, with Murphy getting some coffee, walking his dog and trying to get through all of his voicemails, seemed to be a perfect encapsulation of the struggle of growing old, a battle Murphy has waged publically from his first single on through. Shut Up and Play the Hits is a great culmination for a band that should have been selling out Madison Square Garden long before their farewell show and a great final present both for the band and their fans (who sold out the movie all across the country last night). The movie is highly recommended for fans of the group, but the interesting commentary from Murphy about age, fame and “letting go” make it a deeper, more complex film than a simple concert documentary and should expand who may be interested in the movie. But in the end, the title says it all….we came for the movie but we stayed for the fucking jams. Rest in Peace LCD Soundsytem.